The original SC-5 chose a benign do-no-harm approach that assured compatibility with a wide range of gear. It had no bad habits and at worst was guilty of sins of omission. Mr. Fritz's enhanced version handily addressed those and even managed to tweak the nose of its older big brother SE in the process. Bear in mind that the original SC-5SE was an 11-gauge dynamo of iron-fisted control married to velvet-glove subtlety. Ten years later, the enhanced little brother brought improvements in refinement to challenge the old order.

The e2 had superior density in the midbass through midrange, with greater detail than my double run of 11 AWG SE. Gone was the slight midrange coolness of the first generation. Instruments and singers were more palpable, large acoustic instruments had more appropriate tonal weight and warmth. Highs were smooth and without grain. The elder sibling held its superiority of muscle, delivering greater bass slam and more ease on complex loud passages where the e2 could be pushed to saturation. Otherwise the e2 showed its upgraded status. There was a richer dynamic palette on the soft end of the scale for more detail and subtlety. In addition, the cable staged larger with greater projection and refinements in image localization and dimensionality for a more immersive and intimate experience.

So the thin speaker cable compared well to its thicker older stable mate. How did it fare in broader light? Out came a pricier Madison Audio Lab Extreme 2 to offer a contrasting viewpoint by imparting superior detail and equivalent dynamic agility but less expressive handling of image and space. The Extreme demonstrated advantages in image focus and transparency but put performers in a drier shallower venue behind the speakers by contrast to the Audio Art's more engulfing interpretation. Other than the Madison, the diminutive e2 also fared well against other assorted stable on its strengths, validating Mr. Fritz's decision to elevate his value product to more serious status.

The last item on my list was the new Power1 ePlus Cryo. Here Mr. Fritz sought to take his stalwart 11 AWG power cord to new heights with a combination of cryo, solderless nano liquid and Kontak enhanced connections married to the Furutech FI-28 plugs of his SE line. The cable also got a cosmetic makeover of Techflex sleeve to distinguish it. Having been aural witness to the numerous Power1 variations over the years, I was anxious to hear what further gains could be drawn from the same power tap.